Billy Contreras: Inspired Insights from a Country Fiddler and Jazz Master – Creative Strings Podcast Ep. 1

Creative Strings Podcasts
Creative Strings Podcast: Exploring Intersections Between Creativity, Music Education, String Playing, DIY Music Business, And Culture

Billy and I sat down to speak live at the 2014 Creative Strings Workshop to discuss Billy’s life, music, and more in the first episode of the brand new Creative Strings Podcast. Later we edited this podcast to include several amazing clips of Billy from when he was young through today. This progression shows how Billy’s playing has evolved, as well as his incredible variety. We structured the podcast to heavily feature Billy’s playing in between interview segments. Please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!

Thanks to the Electric Violin Shop for being great at what they do and also for sponsoring our effort.



Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 12.05.17 PMClips in this Episode:

Many of the clips included are from the two recordings Billy and Chris co-produced: “Jazz Fiddle Revolution” (2001) and “Jazz Fiddle Evolution” (2005).

In the order clips appear:

By the Bay – Live performance

Always – Billy with the Nashville Swing Band

Walking on Broadway – from Jazz Fiddle Evolution

Untitled Blues Jam – from Jazz Fiddle Revolution

Dreams – Original Tune with Billy’s wife, Amanda Contreras

Maria, Maria  – from Jazz Fiddle Revolution

W.S. – from Jazz Fiddle Evolution

The Way you Look Tonight – from Jazz Fiddle Revolution

Crazy Young Billy

Black Mountain Rag – Performed by Kenny Baker

Dialogue Over Two Themes – from Jazz Fiddle Revolution

Tristeza – from Jazz Fiddle Evolution

Solo on Original Tune


Back Home in Indiana – Performed by the Lester Young Trip

Sally Goodin  – Performed by Ricky Skaggs

Sweet Georgia Brown – Performed by Billy at the Grand Master Fiddler’s Competition 2005 (Billy placed 3rd)

Dialogue Over Two Themes – from Jazz Fiddle Revolution

Sweet Soul Music – Live

Practicing at age 17

Solo over the Blues – Live

Detective H – from Jazz Fiddle Evolution

Licks in Ionian and Dorian (from a live masterclass)


Practicing at age 17

Song of the Wanderer – from Texas in my Soul


Show Notes

People and concepts discussed in this episode:

Suzuki starter violin:

Suzuki starter violin 2Suzuki starter violin 3

Suzuki starter violin 1








Jim Wood – Billy’s first fiddle teacher

Buddy Spicher – Billy’s fiddle teacher


You can download string ensemble charts from Christian and Billy’s first album Jazz Fiddle Revolution by clicking here.

Please take a moment to visit our friends at the Electric Violin Shop. Electric Violin Shop is your one-stop shop for electric instruments, amps, gear & accessories, and most of all, expertise. Use code CHOWES at checkout and take 5% off of your order.

Billy Contreras is a returning faculty member at the Creative Strings Workshop, a week-long intensive camp for improvising string players. Click here to learn more about the Creative Strings Workshop.

Learn from over 200 educational resources and materials at the Creative Strings Academy.


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Creative Strings Podcast
Christian Howes presents the Creative Strings Podcast:
Exploring intersections between creativity, music education, string playing, DIY music business, and culture.

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Thanks so much to our sponsors for supporting the Creative Strings Podcast. Their support makes it possible to invest in the production of each episode and bring you great stories like this one.

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Please take a moment to visit Electric Violin Shop, your one-stop shop for electric instruments, amps, gear, accessories, and most of all, expertise. Use code CHOWES at checkout and take 5% off of your order. Call 866-900-8400 to get your questions answered on “all things electric strings.”

While you are talking to EVS, be sure to ask them about the Yamaha Electric Violin (you can check out my video review here). I’ve been a Yamaha performing artist for over 20 years and am very proud to be a part of the Yamaha family.

Are you a string player/teacher interested in exploring improvisation, contemporary styles, and related subjects?

Take a free introductory private Skype lesson (limited avails) Attend an upcoming workshop

If you enjoyed my interview with Andrea Whitt, check out these related posts:

Full Interview with Jazz Violinist Regina Carter Creative Practice Strategies for Violin, Viola, and Cello Full Interview with Jazz Violinist Jason Anick

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“Creative Strings” initiatives with the founding of Camille Catherine, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the expansion and improvement of music education, with a focus on the development of curriculum and programs for classically trained string players and teachers to expand their skills as creative musicians.